Since you’re probably reading this on a laptop or computer, we will also assume you have an external hard drive and perhaps some questions about it. In this article, we’ll cover some basic info and questions most people have about this important piece of equipment and how long they typically last. Your local computer support company like CEG Support can also help answer any additional questions you may have.

What’s the Lifespan of Your External Hard Drive?

Typically speaking, a hard disk drive lasts anywhere from three to five years. By lasts we mean runs smoothly without any glitches, regardless of whether it’s internal or external. If you’re more concerned about the external casing around the drive, that really depends on how well you take care of it and whether it’s made of metal or plastic.

The real important issue when it comes to external hard drives (HDD) is keeping the information it holds safe. Most manufacturers provide mean time between failure (MTBF) and annualized failure rate (AFR) for the hard drives they produce. And while these two features are connected, they are not the same thing. MTBF represents the approximate number of hours of runtime a drive has before a mechanical failure happens. The AFR, on the other hand, represents the chances your hard drive will fail after being in use for one whole year.

What Can Cause My HDD to Fail?

HDDs are built to withstand some pretty tough conditions, but they are not invincible, and data can be lost with exposure to things like extreme temperatures, strong magnetic fields, and a defect in the HDD itself.

How Can I Prolong the Life of My Hard Drive?

Follow these simple steps that many IT companies suggest to ensure your data is safe and secure, and you get the most out of your HDD:

  • Be careful with your hard drive and avoid dropping it or allowing for heavy objects or liquids to fall on it. Handle it with care when moving it from one place to another and when traveling, be sure to keep it in a protective casing.
  • Avoid subjecting your hard drive to extreme temperature. It’s never a good idea to leave it by a window on a hot sunny day since the sunlight is amplified and can cause it to overheat.
  • Power up the drive only when you need to access the info. Turn it on for no reason still means it’s active and this adds to wear and tear.
  • Before unplugging your external hard drive from your laptop or computer, make sure to eject it from the system. This helps to prevent the corruption of data and potential hard drive failure.

TLC Goes a Long Way

Like many things we own, the better you care for your external hard drive, the longer it will function optimally. As a failsafe, make sure you have your data backed up to another server at all times, so you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.


Updated Blog here: Wondering if your external hard drive has an expiration date?